One of the first places I saw when I went to Veazie was the fenced off quarry on the side of Fell Hill. That day was a bit misty and it was a spooky place. I wanted to investigate it more and this article is about the day I came back to do that. I can hear you asking “Robin are you about to fall into a rock filled hole?” Hell yes it the answer.
But first a little history is required before we talk about what I found in this rocky place. There was a pioneer named Joe Fell who had a farm just to the west of this hill. His name came up in my research on the very first Veazie school where his step kids were enrolled in that log cabin school around 1885. My bet is on him being the namesake of this hill.
This Joe Fell was not just anyone. His daughter Mary with her husband Frank Stevenson are credited with being the founders of Enumclaw. When they platted the town they gave him an Enumclaw lot, where he built one of the first saloons. And there still is a Fell Street in Enumclaw too. Just a coincidence?
Here is a good view of Fell Hill. It gives you a feel for how it is a landmark in the area:
Fell Hill according to a report written in 1971 called Geology and Mineral Resources of King County was first mined about 55 years before the time of that publication. That would be around 1916. Remember the Powder House and the County fight over building a road near it? That all happened in that same time period. What another coincidence?
In 1971 it was owned by the Northern Pacific Railway Company. The rock was used to maintain NPRR properties and occasionally for emergency repairs to King County roads. This was good rock too. Livingston said “The quarry contains some of the best rock in the county.”
One other comment stood out to me because it is an obvious feature of Fell Hill today. It says “A 1,000 foot quarry face has been opened along the northwest side. Material from the quarry seems to be coming from a talus slope, but this appearance is the result of using too much blasting powder when the quarry was shot several years ago.” Makes one think of the powder house when reading that and are they connected?
Enough background! We are ready to see what I found there. My first quest was to follow the spur that comes off the old NPRR mainline, crosses the old road and goes into the quarry. Here is a series of photos showing how the mainline and this spur appear outside the gate to the quarry.
For weeks I was fascinated by that rail embedded in the old road heading into the fenced quarry. Then on one of my visits I was poking around and found a path that took me into quarry land.
At first I just followed the rail and documented it’s lack of use for decades. Let’s just say it was certainly an after-thought at this point in time. What fascinated me was that this spur’s wood railroad ties are basically invisible under years of dirt or have completely rotted away. Pictures are far better than words so here is what I found as I followed the rail along.
As I walked down the quarry area I saw that open rock face and piles of rock. These piles were ready for a rare truck to come take them away. One even had a piece of rail stuck in it, like someone had a bit of humor in this deserted old place.
I walked along the quarry floor continuing to head north. Fell Hill is somehow tied to Veazie via the railroad spurs I found on several maps. So, I was looking for the spur that would have gone through this area and out the other side into the Veazie Gravel Pit. That older Veazie gravel pit is in my discussion about an 1890 Veazie logging photo. Here is a link if you have not read that. Another Veazie Lost Location
At last I came to where the rails end today. I was surprised by how it sat with the ties on the ground with no ballast and precariously supporting the rails. Deserted and left stranded in time!
How old was this rail? I had been trying to see the dates on the rail but since it was buried that was not working. When I got to the raised area I did not find a date on the rail but did on a tie plate.
More questions that answers circled in my brain. Was this always the end? How old was it? Was that tie plate a repair or original? Here take a look and you decide.
Back to my mission to understand the spurs in the Veazie Gravel Pit. To help you connect the dots to the Veazie Gravel Pit Spur with the Fell Hill Spur I created this lidar map of the area. Check out the dotted lines of how these two places could have been connected.
I have one more map on this connection topic. It is the 1920 King County Survey to build 392nd and an underpass. It shows two spurs coming from the area of Fell Hill. Reminder that we estimate Fell Hill Quarry was opened a few years before this King County Road was proposed. Were they in a transition period from the 1880s gravel pit to the better rock quarry? Not sure we will ever really know for sure.
Moving along now to see what was at the far northern end of Fell Hill. There I was stopped by the little creek that was diverted this way over 100 years ago. It has appropriately been given the name Stonequarry Creek. I found some interesting items strewn around down at this end. Was there a building here at one time? or is this just a dumping ground for unwanted mining items.
Have you had enough material on the Veazie railroad spurs? Did they exist, where they went and what did they actually do? Let us move on to another twist behind the gates of the Fell Hill Quarry. Off we go.
Best I can tell at one time the gate to the quarry was north of the current one. Here are some photos from the main line side of the fence today. Lot of junk piled up there and evidence of a spur that ran parallel to the mainline. (could that be our mystery connection?)
Now for the twist!! I found inside the quarry area a big pile of poles, fencing, and generally old junk. It was laying close to where this old entrance used to be. All of this appears to be many decades old. Perhaps dumped here when they installed the current chain-link fence and did some other clean up on the railroad right of way.
The poles have old electrical knobs and wire on them. Lot of barbwire and fencing stuff is mixed in the pile. Could this be part of the old fence and entrance?
Another place it could have come from, was the old Sunset Telephone and Telegraph that is noted on all the Northern Pacific Railroad Section Maps. This original telephone service was about 20 feet to the west of the railroad mainline. It was strung from Palmer Junction to Veazie and then turned south off the railroad right of way at Veazie.
A third option was the pole line on the east side of the mainline. It was NPRR’s electrical lines and those poles are noted on the above 1920 King County Survey Map. We also talked about them in the article on finding the location of the Veazie work crew photo of.
Here is what that pile looks like. Ponder what you see and send me any thoughts in the comments below.
It was time to start heading home. To find my way out I had to get around another mass of left over trash from the past. Tires, fencing and large rocks surrounded by massive mud puddles was a bit of an obstacle. Just more Fell Hill Quarry pulling on me to stay.
I wiggled my way back to the exit. The rabbit hole let me go & then I found myself on the street back in the normal world.
This is the seventh chapter on my Veazie findings. (links to the prior six are – The Elusive Veazie, a bit of railroad fun in Which was first? Veazie or the Railroad?, all over the map with Many Faces of Veazie, the one on finding our logging camp Lost? or Disappeared? Unravelling the Veazie Mystery, The Powder House which is in the Veazie Gravel Pit and the search for the location of the second 1890 photo.
Remember Times are a changing. Blink and all will be changed. Literally, a town can disappear into the fog.
Excellent research, I have poked around the quarry as well and asked myself similar questions!
I am glad to hear I am not the only crazy person poking around at Veazie. Did you get over where the Powder House is off 392nd. The Veazie Gravel pit from the 1890s – 1910s? Lot to sort out and the railroad is a piece of the landscape I have never spent so much time on. Like a river!
I’ll check it out soon. Haven’t been there for a few years.